University of Minnesota

Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from Highland Elementary 2007

Highland Elementary
1700 Saunders
St. Paul, MN 55116

Year: 2007
Teacher(s): Eileen Cotter

A-MAZE-ing Ants

Lucas Z, Dexter M

Can carpenter ants learn to walk through a maze?

We have a maze that we will put the ants in.  It has a clear top that we will put on the top so they can't climb out of the maze.  We will try to see if there is a way that the ants can be taught to go through the maze correctly.

We will report our results at the Insect Fair.

Ant Eaters

Laurel S, Destiny W

If they are given a choice, what food will carpenter ants choose?

We have weighed and given them a dead mouse, a peanut butter cracker, and some canned mixed vegetables.  We are giving them as much time as possible to eat the foods we have given them.  We will weigh each of the foods again to see which they have chosen to eat the most of.  We will report the results at the Insect Fair.

Comfort Food

Ashley E, Erica M

If a cabbage butterfly is offered several of its preferred larval foods to lay eggs on, will she choose the same one she ate as a larva?

We will feed cabbage butterfly larvae several different foods from the Brassica group of plants:  broccoli, brussel sprouts, collards, and kale.  We will mark each butterfly after it emerges to know which food it ate as a larva.  We will offer each butterfly a choice of all four plants to lay eggs on.  Will she choose the same plant she ate as a larvae?

At the deadline for this abstract, our experiment is only at the chrysalis stage, so we don't know the results of our experiment yet.  We will the report the results at the Insect Fair.

Fast Frass!

Will P, Spencer W

How fast does food get turned into frass by a tobacco hornworm?

We will use tobacco hornworms that are being fed artificial diet.  We will dye some of the diet and feed it to the larvae.  We will time to see how long it takes before their frass has changed color.

At the deadline for this abstract, we don't know the results yet, because we want to wait until the larvae are larger.

To Eat or Not to Eat?

Andrew C, Salvador V, Mary G

If tobacco hornworms are only given leaves of a food that is not one of their preferred host plants, will they eat it or die?  The larvae usually only eat food from the family that includes tobacco, tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, and potato.  We gave the larvae only dandelion leaves which are not from the same family as their usual host plants.

We decided to do this experiment because we wanted to experiment with foods for this larvae, but its usual foods are hard to use this time of the year because their growing season is almost over and the leaves are not able to be bought in stores.  We decided to try dandelion because the leaves last a long time outside and they can be bought in the store.

We tried an earlier experiment where we took larvae that were eating artificial diet and put  9 of them on tomato leaves, 9 on pepper leaves, 9 on eggplant, 9 were left on artificial diet and 9 on dandelion leaves.  They all died except for the ones on the artificial diet and 3 of the ones on dandelion leaves.  We decided that maybe the larvae have a hard time switching food once they have begun eating the artificial diet.

Since 3 of the larvae that were eating dandelions lived, we decided we wanted to experiment more with dandelions.  This time we bought eggs instead of larvae and put them on dandelion leaves right from the beginning.  They never got a chance to taste or smell anything else except dandelion.  The eggs hatched and the larvae started eating.  At the deadline for this abstract, there are 80 larvae eating dandelion.  We will report the results at the Insect Fair.

We want to continue this experiment to the next generation of moth and see if the moths that were fed dandelion leaves as larvae will lay their eggs on dandelion leaves.  We haven't decided yet if we will give them a choice, or just dandelion leaves.

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